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A Jury Duty Excuse Letter is given in response to a Jury Summons, indicating that a particular person is unable to attend Jury Duty for a certain reason.
Jury Summons are given to randomly selected people from lists of registered voters and people with driver’s licenses who live in the district of the court. These summons call on said randomly selected people to appear on a particular date and time to serve on a jury for a court hearing. This service is called Jury Duty. Jury Summons are specific to the person they are sent to, and cannot be transferred to another person.
Having a Jury present for court proceedings ensures the defendant’s right to the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution: The right for the defendant to have a speedy and public trial and an impartial jury.
The Jury’s role in court is to decide whether the defendant in the trial is guilty or not guilty for criminal cases and liable or not liable in civil cases. This decision must be reached only through consideration of the evidence presented in court, and based on the instructions of the judge. Because of this, no particular legal experience is needed when serving as a juror, and are often instructed not to learn anything about the case before the trial, or to speak to any parties involved with the case (i.e. witnesses and lawyers). All information that the Jury receives must come from the trial itself.
One juror will be designated the presiding juror (or head juror) at the beginning of the proceedings - whether by the judge or vote by the jury, depending on the district. The head juror is responsible for facilitating jury discussions, asking questions (often to the judge) on behalf of the jury, and announcing the jury’s verdict.
Jurors can be called for both Civil and Criminal cases. In Criminal cases, the government bringing the case against the defendant must prove their guilt beyond reasonable doubt. The jury must then come to a unanimous decision. In Civil cases, the standard of proof is a preponderance of evidence, or in other words, the weight, credit, and value of the evidence as a whole on either side of the argument must be considered. In this case, the jury still has to come to a unanimous decision unless otherwise instructed.
Jurors are paid $50 per day of the trial, which can increase to $60 if the trial lasts for 10 days or longer. Employers may continue their employee’s salary during all or part of said employee’s jury service, but they are not required to do so. Instead, they are forbidden by law from firing, intimidating, or coercing any permanent employee because of their jury service.
The requirements to be eligible to be appointed as a juror are the following:
- be a United States citizen;
- be at least 18 years of age;
- reside primarily in the judicial district for one year;
- be adequately proficient in English to satisfactorily complete the juror qualification form;
- have no disqualifying mental or physical condition;
- not currently be subject to felony charges punishable by imprisonment for more than one year; and
- never have been convicted of a felony (unless civil rights have been legally restored)
Failing to attend jury duty can result in being charged a fine of $100 to $1000 and/or being held in contempt of court and ordered to do community service or even jail time.
Each District Court maintains its own rules, policies, and procedures when it comes to jury duty. As such, each court may have its own set of acceptable excuses from service, which may or may not be outlined in the jury summons. These excuses are granted at the court’s discretion, and cannot be appealed or reviewed by any other entity.
Get a copy of Jury Duty Excuse Letter template in PDF format.
The Jury Duty Excuse Letter is very short and easy to fill out, only taking up a single page.
However, it may help your case to prepare documents that can verify your reason for not being able to serve, and assure the court of the validity of your excuse.
Sender and Recipient’s Name and Address, and Date.
Enter your full name and address as well as the full name and address of the recipient of the letter. Then enter the date that the letter was or is to be submitted.
The recipient of the letter may be the name indicated in your jury summons (often a clerk of the court or a specific judge). Given this, the address of the recipient should, unless indicated otherwise, be the address of the district court.
Politely address the person that you are addressing the letter to. If you are addressing a clerk of the court, use their full name (no abbreviations). If you are addressing a judge, the proper salutation should be: “Dear Honorable Judge [Full name of the judge]”. As with the clerk of the court, do not abbreviate any title or part of the judge’s name.
Enter the date indicated on your jury summons (the date of the trial) and your reason for not being able to attend.
Important note: It may help to attach relevant documents to serve as evidence that your excuse is valid. For example, if you are suffering from a medical condition, you may need to have your physician write a note/medical certification that you are unable or at least discouraged from attending jury duty.
Letters from your employer (for work-related reasons) and documents that prove that Jury Duty would put stress on your ability to care for yourself/your dependents will also help verify your excuse’s validity.
Enter your contact information here. Make sure that you are providing updated contact information, and that if/when the court calls to approve (or reject) your excuse, you are able to answer the call/respond to the message ASAP, so use your preferred method of notification unless the Jury Summons specifies the way through which the court will contact you.
Sign the form in the given space to certify that you are the one requesting to be excused from jury duty.
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Who needs to use a Jury Duty Excuse Letter?
A Jury Duty Excuse Letter is important for people who have valid reasons for not being able to attend court as a juror. While each district court may have different sets of rules when it comes to what constitutes a valid excuse from Jury Duty, there are a few common reasons that can affect people’s ability to attend jury duty.
- Work-related issues. As serving as a juror for a trial requires that you take time to attend the court hearings and in some cases be sequestered for long amounts of time, issues relating to work may affect a person’s ability to serve as a juror.
- Health-related issues. If one is ill and therefore unfit to physically travel to serve as a juror, they may submit an excuse letter citing sickness as a reason for not being able to attend jury duty.
What are some tips when filling out a Jury Duty Excuse Letter?
The Jury Duty Excuse Letter is a very short letter, but in order to ensure that your request to be excused goes well, and to avoid any potential legal consequences, it is important to make sure that you are properly filling it out.
Double-check the Jury Summons and State Rules. The Jury Summons can sometimes include information on what is considered acceptable excuses from jury duty, as well as the person to contact/send letters to. It may also state that even those excused from jury duty must attend the trial in person regardless. Since each district court’s rules can be different from each other, it is important to review the Jury Summons to ensure that your excuse will be considered a valid one, or otherwise what other requirements may be needed in order to file a Jury Duty Excuse Letter. Some states may also have particular policies when it comes to being excused from Jury Duty, so make sure you also check with the rules of your state.
Provide Documents for Evidence. Having documents that verify your reason for being excused will make it more likely that the court will approve your request, provided it considers the reason for being excused a valid one. Attach any such documents (medical certificate, letter from work supervisor/employer, proof of financial hardship) to the letter when you send it to the recipient.
Take note of deadlines. Some courts will have a deadline by which requests for exemption must be sent in order for them to be considered. This date may be included in the Jury Summons, but also might only be posted by the court elsewhere. Typically, failing to submit a Jury Duty Excuse Letter by this deadline will result in a person not being excused from jury duty, but allowances are made for emergency situations on a case-by-case basis.
Ensure that the information you entered is correct. Anything you put on the letter must be correct and updated or you may be held in contempt of court and subject to the legal consequences implied.
Make a copy before sending. For the purpose of keeping a record (and also to make sure that you have a spare in case anything happens), make sure to copy your letter before you send it.
What is jury duty?
In the United States, jury duty is a responsibility of citizenship, and the legal system depends on citizens to serve when called. Failure to appear before a court may result in criminal charges, fines, and even jail time. It is important to remember, however, that jury duty is not "rarely" imposed on those who may find it inconvenient. It's mandatory. Moreover, courts in the U.S. have a right to punish those who do not appear in accordance with their rules and regulations, which may include ordering a jury trial for oneself.
A person who fails to report for jury duty can be charged with contempt of court. In addition, that person could receive a letter from the judge or clerk warning them about penalties for failure to appear. In the event that a person who was summoned as a juror does not appear, he can be charged with jury tampering. In other words, if you don't show up for jury duty, just hope that your local magistrate doesn't have too much time on their hands and is willing to overlook this offense.
What are some jury duty penalties?
Failure to perform jury duty is a crime in many locales, but the exact nature of the penalty varies from state to state and city to city. Some jurisdictions seek fines or other civil remedies while others go after people who don't show up by sending sheriffs to find them at their homes and workplaces.
The penalties can be as light as a $1 fine for missing the first day of service and go up from there. For instance, if you skip out on several weeks of jury duty in New York City, expect to pay $250 per week you were supposed to serve plus an additional $250 "social conveniences fee." In Boston, jurors who fail to show up for two days get slapped with a $50 fine for each absence. If they miss three or more days within six months, their wages will be garnished by 25%.
Fines and other sanctions usually escalate based on how many times you've been called to appear but failed to show. Some jurisdictions also make repeat offenders pay back docket fees (for the court staff's time preparing the case) and any other costs incurred by the missed trial.
Most law enforcement agencies, like sheriff's departments or constables, don't waste time looking for people who fail to show up for jury duty; it's considered a low priority. When a summons-issuing court needs to track you down, they usually just ask the prosecutor's office to have a police officer visit your last known address or place of employment.
If that doesn't work and you're brought into court without a lawyer, judges typically order the defendant to pay the fine and apologize for ignoring their civic responsibility before dismissing them from jury service. If an attorney is present on either side, though, they'll likely try harder to find you first. In high-profile cases with extensive news coverage, it's not unheard of for attorneys to hire private investigators or even cast aspersions on your character in open court.
The less drastic tactic is simply rescheduling your appearance for another day. Even if you've got a legitimate excuse for missing your first appearance, you'll probably want to appear in the future just in case.
If you're questioned about why you've missed jury duty, think before you speak. Don't criticize the court system or complain that the summons is inconvenient to your schedule. Instead of making excuses, focus on what you can do next time. If this doesn't satisfy the judge, he may send someone from his staff out with a subpoena.
How do I write a letter to be excused from jury duty?
To write a letter to be excused from jury duty, you must include the following information:
- Your name, address, and date of birth.
- The court where you were summoned to appear or your Juror ID number.
- When you were summoned to appear.
- Why you are requesting to be excused/excusing yourself from jury duty.
To request to be excluded for cause, list the reason why you believe that you cannot serve as a juror with honesty and integrity, such as if serving would create a financial hardship or conflict of interest. If none of the provided reasons apply to your situation, briefly explain why it would be difficult or impossible for you to participate on the jury at this time.
What is the best excuse for jury duty?
To request to be excused for cause, list one or more of the following reasons.
- Inability to speak English fluently
- Illness or disability that prevents you from participating in jury duty
- A recent bereavement in your immediate family (death in your immediate family within three weeks of being summoned). You can also write "Please excuse me from jury duty because the death of [name] has recently created a hardship."
- The party you have a strong opinion about either way does not affect whether you should be excused. If you do not wish to share your opinion with the court, simply state "I have a strong opinion about [party] and if selected as a juror, I would not be able to set my opinions aside or participate in a fair and impartial manner."
- You are over 70 years old. You can also write "Please excuse me from jury duty because I am more than 70 years old."
- You will be out of the country during the scheduled length of the trial. It is especially important that you include this information if it is for a long period of time. You may want to include an approximate date that you plan to return.
- You have another important obligation during the scheduled length of the trial that you cannot miss without creating an undue hardship for yourself or someone else. This can be something like being responsible for childcare, having to work at a scheduled time when the court will be in session, and others.
- Your employer will not allow you time off to serve, or your employer does not pay while you are on jury duty.
- Other hardship (you may need to explain what the hardship is).
What is a jury summons letter?
A jury summons letter is a notification that you need to report for jury duty or face possible arrest. It is a document that requires your attention and reminds you that you need to fulfill your civic duties. Jury summons letters are sent out for all federal, state, and local courts that require citizens to serve on a jury.
The court is looking for men and women of legal age who live in the vicinity of each court location to sit on its juries. The type of information requested in the notification letter includes:
- Your name, address, phone number, date of birth
- Your employer's name
- Your occupation Juror ID number or confirmation ID number
- A list of any exclusions that would exempt you from serving as a juror.
Some states allow employers to deny employees time off work if they have received a jury summons letter. Employers have no right to require employees to show the jury summons letter to justify an absence. If you believe your employer may require this information, contact the court directly before scheduling your time off.
When you receive a jury summons notification letter, make sure that it is authentic and not a scam or fake document. Do not click on any links in the email message, as they could contain viruses that infect your computer. Rather than clicking on any links within the email itself, go directly to the website of the court listed on the letter to check for updates about changes in jury duty schedules or other important notices.
If you have trouble viewing your jury summons letter, ask another person who might be able to open it successfully. The reader should send the document's contents to all recipients who are named on the letter.
If you have received a jury summons notification letter that is not authentic, contact your local court to report this fact. You will need to verify that the letter you received was fake before reporting it.
You can choose to ignore the summons, but then you could be arrested and brought into the courtroom by force.
If your contact information is outdated (or not listed at all) and the courts cannot reach you for several months, you will be summoned again with a warning letter; however, if no response is received within four weeks of the second notice, law enforcement may be contacted. The courts do not like to take things that far though as it is a great inconvenience for them as well.
In many jurisdictions, the jury summons letter will have a list of potential excuses or exclusions that you can use to avoid being selected for a trial. Common exclusions include things such as having a medical condition that prevents you from serving on a jury, being over 70 years old and retired from your job, working night shift hours, and having childcare responsibilities. If any of these apply to your situation, write them down so you remember to submit them when the time arises.
If you are not able to serve on a jury for medical reasons, let the court know in advance by calling the number listed at the bottom of your notification letter. Provide verification when requested. The court will then be able to find someone else who is available to sit on the jury.
What happens if you don't respond to jury duty?
If you don't respond to jury duty, the consequences could be very serious. In the past, you might have been fined or threatened with jail. In today's legal system, failing to appear for jury duty could result in a misdemeanor criminal charge being filed against you. And if that happens, it can affect your ability to vote and may impact your employment opportunities.
In general terms, a misdemeanor is an offense that carries a maximum punishment of one year in prison or a $1,000 fine or both (not including requirements to pay restitution). State laws vary, so if you are charged with a misdemeanor, you should consult an attorney in your state.
The following is an example of what could happen if you fail to appear for jury duty. It provides some general information and doesn't cover every situation that can occur when someone fails to respond for jury duty.
If you fail to appear as required by law, you might be considered "in contempt of court". When this occurs, the judge may issue a warrant authorizing law enforcement officers to go find and bring you before the court. If the judge has issued such a warrant, he or she might order that bail be set at an amount equal to your daily salary. This means that it is in your best interest to appear before the judge. You should bring with you any documents that might help you receive a reduction in bail, such as letters of reference from friends and family.
If you don't show up for court after being released on bail, the judge could issue another warrant authorizing law enforcement officers to go find and arrest you. If this happens, the judge might order that bail be set at twice your daily salary.
Another possibility is that if you fail to appear for jury duty, the judge may issue an arrest warrant ordering law enforcement officers to "use all reasonable means" (whatever he/she deems reasonable) to find and take you into custody. Under these circumstances, it's very important to immediately contact an attorney. It's also your right to request that the judge not issue a warrant for your arrest. This is called "purging" the contempt, and it means asking the court to set aside the order requiring you to appear for jury duty.
If a judge rules in your favor and agrees not to issue a warrant for your arrest, make sure you comply with the requirement that you must contact the court when you change address or phone number. If this doesn't occur, then the contempt order will be immediately reinstated. In addition, if at any time before you're arrested, convicted, and sentenced for failure to respond to jury duty, you decide that you don't want to appear in court, after all, go back before the judge who issued the order requiring you to show up for jury duty. The judge will likely reinstate the order authorizing your arrest. And if you're arrested, you'll be required to pay bail, even if it's twice your daily salary.
After being arrested and taken before the judge who issued the warrant for your arrest, he or she may issue a new order that requires you to show up for jury selection at a specific date and time. If you fail to appear as ordered by this judge after complying with his/her original order requiring you to show up for jury duty, then another warrant could be issued authorizing law enforcement officers to go find and take you into custody. Yet again, there is the possibility of bail being set at three times your daily salary.
If convicted of failure to appear for jury duty or failure to obey a court order on the grounds of contempt, you might also be fined $1,000.
If you are still employed while being detained for failure to appear for jury duty on the grounds of contempt, it's important that you keep your job regardless of what happens in court. You can face immediate termination regardless of whether you're found guilty or not. This is because some states exempt employers from any liability if they fire an employee who is incarcerated.
There are other circumstances that will require some investigation by you and/or your attorney. If these instructions don't work for your particular situation, please consult with an attorney before responding to jury summonses.
What happens if you are ill during jury service?
If you are ill during jury service, you are responsible for notifying the court as soon as possible. The court may excuse you from your jury service if it finds that your illness, injury, or other physical condition is such that it would prevent you from rendering a fair and impartial verdict.
What is the oldest age for jury duty?
Federal district courts' rules about jury service vary. The age for jury duty service is 18 years of age, with some courts allowing 17-year-olds to serve. There is no upper age limit as long as the jurors are healthy enough to complete their service and follow instructions from the judge. In most jurisdictions, people over 65 years old do not have to serve on juries because they have a higher chance of having negative interactions with law enforcement or being unable to follow judicial instructions due to health conditions or reduced mental faculties.
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